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Aural Notes (Musical Features)

Baroque Period

• Use of ornaments
• Crisp, light articulation
• Limited dynamic shaping (rare use of crescendo/decrescendo), terraced dynamics
(Sudden loud and sudden soft)
• Limited pitch range (reflecting original use of the harpsichord)
• Polyphonic textures, with parts copying each other
• Energetic, lively rhythms

Classical Period
• Phrasing – Elegant and balanced, with clearer sense of phrase endings. (Eg. 4 bar
phrases)
• Melody – Graceful and elegant melodic ideas, scale and arpeggio patterns are
regularly used
• Harmony –Accompaniments outline generally simple harmony with chords, broken
chords and Alberti bass.
• Dynamics – More use of crescendo and diminuendo, as well as more sudden
contrasts.

Romantic Period

• Rubato: Flexibility of the tempo, expressive and rhythmic freedom by a slight


speeding up and then slowing down of the tempo of a piece at the discretion of the
soloist
• Lyrical & Song-like melodies
• Rich harmonies, many chromatic harmonies
• Use of sustaining pedal
• Wide dynamic and pitch contrasts
20th Century

• Harmony likely to be more adventurous and dissonant, clashing of notes


• Atonality: Lack of tonal centre, absence of a key
• Changing metres, complex rhythms
• Ostinato: same rhythmic pattern repeated throughout a piece
• Melodies not very song-like, composers were more inclined to deal in short
fragments (called motifs rather than melodies), whose notes often didn’t relate to
each other in any traditional way.
• Wide, sudden dramatic contrasts, spiky accents

20th Century (JAZZ)

• Swung Rhythms– where 2 normally equal notes, e.g. quavers, are changed to a
triplet feel, with the 1st note twice as long, and more accented as the 2nd. This can
produce a lazy, mellow feel in slow music, and a springy bounce in faster passages.
• Syncopation – where many of the melody notes and accents occur between the
main beats rather than on them.
• Extended harmony – the harmonic skeleton is usually a repeated and fairly
straightforward pattern but the individual chords can be complex, with 9ths, 11ths
and 13ths grafted on to the fundamental major, minor and dominant 7th chords
• Ornamentation – grace notes (sometimes crushed acciaccatura style, sometimes
slowly sliding) are common.
• Blue notes – jazz and blues are closely related, but blues has its own scale. The blues
scale on C, for example, is C, E♭, F, G♭, G, B♭.